#REVIEW: “A BIGGER SPLASH”
After making big waves in Venice last fall, A Bigger Splash is set to do exactly as its name suggests. Provocative, daring and sexy, it is impossible not to be swept away into the tangled web that is the world of our four central characters in this re-teaming of Director Luca Guadagnino and his muse Tilda Swinton. You might’ve been mesmerized by their pairing in 2009’s I Am Love? Think – just as juicy and scandalous, with a dark twist of suspense.
Rock icon Marianne (Swinton) and her younger lover Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) vacation on reclusive scenic Italian island Pantelleria, to be joined unexpectedly by her former flame Harry (Ralph Fiennes) and his estranged daughter Penelope (Dakota Johnson). A complicated web of deception, jealousy, lust and rekindled emotions are weaved with matters unresolved between Marianne and Harry from years prior upon their separation. Harry despite having in his words “slutted around”, is left with a void as he tries to win back his true love Marianne, whom already is in love deeply with Paul. Relations between Marianne and Penelope are tense also as the former tries to seduce Paul, while also competing with Marianne for her newly-reunited father’s attention. Paul meanwhile growingly is threatened by Harry as he sees him growing closer to Marianne, while Marianne also finds herself torn between the affections of both Paul and Harry, while in ways threatened by the Elektra Complex-laced bond between Penelope and her father.
Guadagnino is a masterful storyteller – and it is impossible not to be drawn-in by these characters and if not that, the alluring Pantelleria as a backdrop, becomes a character on its own. The story calculatedly reaches a boiling point in slow, but never dull pacing. Performances from our four stars are just phenomenal and while being muted the entire Movie by the loss of her voice, Swinton‘s Marianne commands the screen fully as she emotionally is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Fiennes goes all-in in his bravest performance to date, led completely by Harry’s heart, while Schoenaerts delivers fine work once again, cool and wound tightly as the under-spoken Paul. Johnson solidifies her status among the cream of the crop of her generation, always knowing more than we are led to believe her docile Penelope knows.
Certainly not for the weak of heart, but meant for the adventurous soul. A BIGGER SPLASH is a gripping, intense getaway with four fascinating individuals whom we probably wouldn’t want to be stuck on an island with, but yet keep our eyes off of.
Elevation Pictures release A BIGGER SPLASH in Toronto at the Varsity Theatre on Friday, May 13, 2016. It opens in Vancouver – May 20 (select theatres) and Calgary May 27 (select theatres).